Where the ‘queen of cups’ meets the ‘dress doctor’

Where the ‘queen of cups’ meets the ‘dress doctor’

by marlies|dekkers

In art school, many years ago during a nude model drawing class, I had a life changing insight: What if I, as an artist, used a woman’s body as my canvas? If you make a painting, someone will hang it on their wall. If you design a chair, someone will sit on it. But if you design lingerie, someone will wear it, and by doing so, complete your art! I had found my mission.

As a woman, I wanted to empower other women. I wanted to help them celebrate their bodies. Yes, lingerie is about seduction, but you have to seduce yourself first.

And so, I created my Golden Combination, consisting of three components that would define the look and philosophy of my brand:

Design: No frou-frou. The French and the Italians, who dominated the world of lingerie back then, like to wrap women up like bon-bons. I am a minimalist, and in that regard, typically Dutch: each line was going to matter.

Fit: I wanted a superb fit and outstanding quality. My goal: to make the Rolls Royce of bras and knickers.

Feminine Point of View: What do women want? After centuries of the male point of view dominating art and design, I wanted to (re)discover what made us click.

I’m not the only one of course. Coco Chanel, Vivienne Westwood and Miuccia Prada; these are all female designers who have liberated women through style. For my collections this season, I was inspired by a perhaps less obvious, but no less influential feminine feminist icon: costume designer extraordinaire Edith Head.

Edith transformed women; a wanna-be into a movie star, the girl-next-door into a femme fatale. Initially, these women were actresses –from Bette Davis in ‘All about Eve’ to Kim Novak in ‘Vertigo’- but in the 1940’s and 1950’s, when Head was at the peak of her fame, the average American woman took most of her style inspiration from film. Edith constantly received letters from fans, asking for advice, and soon she had a newspaper column and became a regular guest on radio- and TV shows. This way, she could directly influence the look of millions of women with her practical tips and brilliant one-liners.

What was Edith’s secret? Well, fit always came first. That’s how she earned her nickname ‘the dress doctor’: by using her almost surgical precision to help her ‘patients’ look their very best. Nobody was better at helping women with their ‘problem areas’; actress Barbara Stanwyck even credited Edith for saving her career by creating figure-correcting designs that finally landed the actress more glamorous roles.

Then, there was Edith’s elegant signature style: clean, simple lines and a monochromatic palette- she felt that bright colours and wild patterns were distracting, both on film and in real life. And very importantly, all her designs were created from a feminine point of view. “Fit the dress to the girl, not the girl to the dress,” she used to say. At Edith’s funeral, her dear friend Bette Davis thanked her for never imposing a costume on her.

And there you have it, Edith’s own Golden Combination. At first glance, the stern-looking costume designer -dark glasses, buttoned-up grey suits- might not have much in common with me, a flamboyant lingerie-designer in killer heels. But look more deeply, and you see that our missions are almost identical: to give you confidence through an excellent fit and a design that is elegant and flattering from a feminine point of view. Enough confidence to explore my motto: dare to be. And then, oh, the places you’ll go!

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